Saturday, February 28, 2009

New Look

So, you've probably noticed I changed the look of our blog. I wish I could make the picture at the top smaller! (It seems to overtake the entire thing!) Anyone know how to do this?? This is new to me...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring is coming...

Tulips and daffodils, oh my!
The fruits of my labor this past fall.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lent Day 1: An Adventure in Pressure-Cooking

Today is the first day of our new commitments so, as I am not watching TV (!), I have a little spare time to blog.

My father-in-law has recently become a fan of the pressure-cooker. Since we, in some ways, share a kindred spirit for these types of things (which really makes my husband AND mother-in-law crack up laughing...often) he gave me a matching one for my birthday. I was really scared of the pressure-cooker at first. I've heard so many horrors stories of explosions, house fires, etc. (and of course it seems that every person who I tell about my pressure cooker can't help but warn me of the impending doom and danger...) so I have let it sit on my kitchen table, unopened, for about 2 weeks. Tonight, though, it made its debut. I must say, my life changed. Think: crock-pot on speed. I bought this fabulous cookbook to get me started. All the recipes are healthy and require very few ingredients.

I chose to make Chicken-Noodle Soup as my first attempt at pressure-cooking. It literally took 5 minutes to prepare! Brown chicken and veggies (fresh!), pour in some water and spices and let it go. Oh, and did I mention it only took 12 mintues to cook? Stir in some noodles and let them soften while you make grilled cheeses and voi la! Dinner is served.
It went from this:

and this:

to this:

I think this will definitely help me stick to my commitments of cooking at home during the week. We'll see.

And I have enough left to take to school for lunch for the next 2 days :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Though I am not Catholic, I really enjoy Lent and the concept of giving up or taking on something as a physical recognition of Christ's sacrifice for our sins. It also adds to the anticipation build-up of Easter, a holiday that is just as important as Christmas but is quite underrated and overlooked. My fascination with Lent started in college freshman year when I lived with several Catholic girls (yeah B2W!) who all gave up something. As I am never one to be left out, I happily followed suit.

The hubs has never been very into Lent, but this year he's agreed to take part. Here's what we've decided to give up/take on:

1. No TV except on Thursdays. (Why Thursdays? you ask...Thursday has been our standing date-on-the-couch night since we started dating/watching The Office and Grey's Anatomy. As we feel that it is only beneficial to our marriage to spend this quality time together, Thursdays will be staying around. All other days, though, the tube is staying off!)
I'm hoping this will also result in vast amounts of free time to do the following:
a. finish thesis
b. read my Bible
c. read for pleasure

2. Eat at home every night during the week.
This has been a goal for so long now, but we really feel like sacrificing our eating out will result in more quality time together and our taking better care of ourselves/losing weight. (I'm pretty sure Lent is not supposed to be about losing weight a.k.a. self-centeredness, but it's a good time to make this commitment and stick with it short term, hoping it will result in something more long term.)

3. Keep up with the Monthly Bible Reading Plan that our church puts out.
We just need to plain be in the Word more. No way around. This gives us a method and a place to start.

4. Write a letter or card to someone once a week.
Ok, this is mine, not Patrick's. I'm starting this week by writing to my sister-in-law and family in Australia who we have yet to thank for our Christmas present (oops). I got lots of pretty stationary for Christmas plus a really fun stamp-thingy with my name and address on it (thanks, Susan!). No time like the present to put it to good use.

So there you have it. Our Lent List. I'll keep you updated on how it goes!! What are your thoughts on Lent? Are you planning to give up/take on anything?? What a great time to look at our priorities and rearrange where necessary.

(By the way, the "L" on my computer is broken. It is quite hard to continually type Lent when having to violent force down the L key, so if I've made any typos, please forgive. Just an FYI...)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Secretly Going Green

Since Patrick is not really into the blogging like me and rarely even reads OUR blog, I feel that it's probably ok to reveal my secret on here. I've been gradually going green in many different around here and my husband is yet to really notice or protest. Not that going green is a Bad Thing, the only reason Patrick would protest is because we don't believe in Global Warming (we believe in God's provision and that He knows what he's doing with our earth) and that when Patrick thinks of the word "organic" all that flashes in front of his eyes are dollar signs and the word "expensive." But we do believe that God gave over much of the care of earth into the hands of man and gave us the responsibility to take care of it and the people in our lives that He put in our care. So, one of the ways that I'm trying to do these things is to be more careful of what we put in our bodies and how we take care of ourselves. And, what I've found is, that actually going green can be CHEAPER if you do it the right way and in the right areas (like cleaning products, etc.) which leaves more money available to shop at places like the co-op. Here are some of the ways we've gone green and my plans to keep going in this direction:

1. Go Energy Effecient.
This is something that was actually my husband's idea! When we moved into our house 2 years ago, we changed out all the light bulbs with energy effecient bulbs. We have an in-ground pool which costs A LOT to run in the summertime, so our hope was to save in other ways, and this is one of them. I'm happy to report that we have not yet changed a bulb AND our electricity bill is always really low.

2. Thermostat.
Our house has an energy effecient thermostat that was already here when we moved in. We love it. We tend to keep it pretty low and open windows whenever we can. LOVE FRESH AIR.

3. Cleaning Products.
As we ran out of the regular cleaning products that we were using, I've gradually switched over to green products. GreenWorks Surface Cleaner and Glass Cleaner. The next step when these run out is to experiment making my own household cleaners. Vinegar+Water as a surface and counter cleaner, etc. Also, I've come to love Seventh Generation Dish Cleaning Products (automatic dishwasher detergent and dish soap).

4. Beauty Products.
I've started using natural shampoo and conditioner (Kiss My Face) and face wash (Burt's Bees Orange Essence) instead of the ones with all the chemicals that I can't pronounce. I was very skeptical of this, as I am very serious about my beauty routine, but so far these things have been great. My skin looks better than it has in a while! I do put my foot down at organic deordorant. I'm just not ready yet to make that leap...

5. Local Products.
We get our milk and dairy products delivered from Homestead Creamery. WE. LOVE. THEIR. FOOD. It's so fresh and great. Patrick had no problem making this switch, since he's a bonefied milk lover (no pun intended). It's a little pricey, but so worth it. The milk is so good, that we've gone to not having anything else to drink in our house except milk and water. (Soft Drinks be gone!....except for the occasional luxury of course). Plus, it's like Christmas every Thursday morning when you wake up to find a delivery on your doorstep.

I've also started shopping more at the farmer's market for veggies and fruit. This year, our farmer's market is open all-year-round for the first time! Yay!

6. Bottle-Free.
We've never been people that splurge on bottled beverages. But we did get a Brita Water Filter for our wedding and it has become a staple in our house. In fact, my chore list actually reads: 1. Dishes 2. Put laundry away 3. Clean house 4. Keep Brita full. I learned that this is so much better for the environment than all those plastic bottles to throw away. We were being green and didn't even know it!

7. Grown your own food.
Though my garden was not so hot last summer (it was my first try), it is my main project this summer. My goal is to start planting in March and keep it going all year long. Produce is expensive!! Plus, I'll be more willing to eat a variety of veggies if I'm growing them (in celebration of the fruits of my labor). I am blessed to have an expert gardner for an uncle to coach me and help me with this project. I'll keep you updated on this as it gets going...

8. Toss the processed food.
This has been my latest endeavor. I've really tried to be better at using as natural products as possible to avoid things like weird chemicals, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes and the like. I've just become skeptical of what these things are doing to your body. Because of this, I've been cooking more at home (I can control the ingredients), and I've stopped eating those processed frozen meals for lunch everyday. In fact, I've stopped buying them completely (didn't I say I was trying to save money!) and taking more home-cooked food for lunch at school. I don't miss the Lean Cusines at all, trust me.

9. Stop the waste.
I've really tried to be more conscious of using up things and not throwning out food. I've tried to be more aware of how much food a recipe makes and cut it in half if I know we're not going to be able to eat it all before it goes bad. And taking leftovers for lunch (see #7) has helped with this process.

10. Home remedies.
We've going to the chiropractor (Patrick is also really sold on this, since the chiropractor has relieved the pain that used to flare up from an old knee injury) and he has given us some ideas for home remedies instead of always taking cold medicine and running to the dr. for an antibiotic.
Sore Throat- Gargle with Cider Vinegar and Warm Water
Cough - Honey, Lemon, Ginger and Hot Water
Flax Seed Oil - natural anti-inflamatory

This has been working for us.

This sounds like a lot, but since I've been doing things just quietly and gradually AND it seems to be saving us money in the long-run (less groceries so no waste, not buying cleaning products, etc.) Patrick is all for it. He probably thinks his wife is turning into a hippy, but I think that's ok with me. I do feel like I'm living much more healthy than I was. It could just be the placebo effect, but if it's working and we feel better, does that really matter?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

God's Provision Even in the Details

This week has been less than fantastic at our house. I have been sick Saturday through, well, I still am, even after taking a day off work on Monday and going to the doctor. I've got the cough-that-won't-let-go once again, like I do every year at this time of year. So I was really thrilled Monday night when they were calling for snow. Another day of rest! (I thought) I will be back to normal in no time! (I thought) No. It did not snow. I awoke early Tuesday morning, still hacking up a lung and forced my way through a less than hot shower because our hot water heater has been a (not nice word) lately. And don't even get me started on our leaky tub issue. That is for another blog post.

Well, again last night they called for snow, and, even though I tried so hard not to get my hopes up, I did. So I took my codine-laden cough syrup and went to bed early, secretly thinking I would enjoy a great night's rest and get to sleep gloriously late this morning. No again. At 1:30 in the morning I wake up to a clanging so loud I thought surely our house was falling down, only to find my husband trapsing around in his hiking boots and coat and digging in every drawer in our house for a flashlight. Of course my now-codine-laden self thought it must only be a dream and sure enough when I awoke an hour later to my husband coming quietly to bed I thought I must have imagined the whole thing.

Until. I snuggle up to Patrick and asked in a very serene, half-drowsy voice, "Is it snowing yet??" "Um, no," he says. "But I have something to talk to you about." Uh oh. That is not what I wanted to hear. Knowing my husband, who likes to have deep reality-facing heart-to-hearts in the middle of the night, this could be anything. "The hot water heater," he said, "it, um, busted....there was water everywhere. I tried not to wake you up..." WHAT? I tried to panic, but of course had had so much cough syrup that I was unable to muster any sort of excitement over this. I'll worry about it in the morning...which I didn't. I got myself up, took myself to school, and decided not to worry about any of it. We would fix it. There was nothing I could do. THIS is a miracle of God's provision in itself. I am prone to worry about these sorts of things.

So, where was God in all of this you ask?? Here is the crazy part: Had things gone according to MY plan, we never would have realized the hot water heater had busted until sometime tonight when we got home from work. You see, Patrick was asleep on the couch when I was getting ready for bed. Had he stayed asleep, I would have gone downstairs in the basement to take care of the litter box and lock up. BUT he woke up right before I was headed down there and said not to worry he'd take care of it. I probably never would have caught the trickle of water under the hot water heater. He did. He notices these things. Also, had we found it tonight, we would have had to wait who knows how long before fixing it, because it turns out that our plumber's daughter is having a baby tomorrow. But, because we caught it last night and could call this morning, he was able to come over right away and get it taken care of before his big day tomorrow. Finally, we had budgeted around $800 to fix this problem, but our plumber, a family friend, was such a blessing and didn't charge us an arm and a leg AND went with Patrick to get a new one, saving us over $300 bucks. Friends, God is in the details. Even when things seem to be going all wrong, He is working them out and continually blessing. Praise Him for eyes to see His work even through this crazy day!

Oh yeah, and did I mention that my wonderful husband had the opportunity to share what God has done in our marriage and have a spiritual conversation with this man while they worked together to install the new heater? How cool is that!

Today I have learned a whole new meaning to this verse:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

And now I am off to take a very long, HOT shower.

Monday, February 2, 2009


So, I am not as good at keeping up with this thing as I had hoped to be. Sorry, I vow to better in the future! Our life has been pretty crazy since Christmas and today I am home sick so I thought it would be a good time to catch up. I saw on someone else's blog (I can't remember who?) that they had the same problem over the holidays, and wrote an update in list form. Here here is my speedy catch -up from the Holiday until now, in list format:

1. Restful holiday break with family and friends in Salem.
2. Traveled to Gatlinburg the day after Christmas to hit the sales and visit Patrick's grandma. I think this will be a new tradition!
3. Celebrated New Years' with our wonderful friends Shawn and Sarah-a relaxing night of dinner at Macados and Mario Kart. (Sidenote: did anyone else think it was a little sad and slightly disturbing to watch Dick Clark?? Was this really a great idea??)
4. Went to Williamsburg for my birthday (January 6) was THE MOST RELAXING TRIP of all time...wondering around DOG street and campus, lunch at Cheese Shop, dinner at the Trellis. Yum!
5. Back to school and work and normal routine...although it took us until January 24-25 to get our tree and decorations down. No rush, right?
6. Emily began working out (hello New Years Resolution). Patrick did not. But continues to "think about it." (??)
7. January 23-Emily successfully made it through her first semester as a real life teacher. Whew!
8. Patrick has begun to ponder the idea of going for his MBA. I'm trying to encourage him in this. He's so good at what he does and he loves it! (and this only increases my chances of getting to be a stay at home mom at some point in my life. Just a sidenote!) Please pray for us about this decision!
9. We've thought about looking to move to a different house. Interest rates low=more house, same money?? But we love our house so much. We're still on the fence about this. We'll keep you updated.
10. Today, I'm home sick. Apparently a virus, which I found out after greatly offending the dr. on duty by thinking she was just an intern. (Yes, I've been watching too much Grey's Anatomy.) But she came in my room and just sat down and started chatting me up about how cute my purse is and what I did for a living. When 5 minutes had gone by and she hadn't started examining me, I assumed we were waiting on the real docter (mistake) and promptly said, "so are you an intern??" "No, I'm the doctor." Oops. But she was wearing awesome red shoes which I complimented, so maybe that helped smooth things over??

So that is our life, in a nutshell (or more accurately, in a concise list) from Christmas until this very moment. I plan to post pictures of Christmas very soon!